If your premature baby dies
Most premature babies go on to lead healthy lives, but unfortunately a very small proportion of them do not survive.
Every parent responds in their own way to the loss of their baby and your grief may include shock, guilt, sadness, anger and despair. As well as coping with these profound emotions, you will need to manage a number of practical things, such as telling your family, registering the death, deciding whether to agree to a post-mortem, and thinking about whether to have a funeral or other ceremony for your baby.
What happens when a baby dies
Hospitals have procedures to follow when a baby dies, and you may find these a source of comfort at this devastating time. They may give you the chance to hold your baby and offer to take photographs. Some families feel that this can keep their baby’s memory alive, and find it helpful to include pictures of the baby with other family photos and talk about them often.
Who can help if you are bereaved
Support is available in many different forms, including publications, online message boards, volunteer befriending services, telephone support lines (including the Tommy's freephone line: 0800 0147 800) and local support groups. You can use whichever elements you feel most comfortable with, alongside support from your healthcare team.
Grieving in your own way
You will also get support from your loved ones, and this may be all that you need. Sometimes difficulties can arise when different people experience the loss in different ways. You may feel particularly close to the baby if you have carried her for months, even if you saw her for only a few hours. Others may feel less of a connection with the baby, or may feel unable to express their own grief if they feel their primary role is to be strong and support you.
Read more about the grieving process here
Sharing experiences for support
Meanwhile, friends and family who are unsure of how to handle this situation may unintentionally make comments that can seem inappropriate or insensitive. For that reason, many women find it helpful to seek outside support too – and in particular to go to a local group, where they can meet others who have been through a similar experience. Even many years after the baby died, some women continue to use these groups (such as those run by the Stillbirth & Neonatal Death Charity, Sands) as a place where they can remember their little one.
Remembering your baby
Be aware that certain dates, such as your due date, or your baby’s birthday, may be particularly difficult for you and for your family and may take on huge significance in the future.
Read more about remembering your baby here.
In memory pages
If you would like to set up an In memory page for your baby, you can click here. It enables you to raise money for research into premature birth, which aims to prevent other families going through your experience.
Published April 2012, next review April 2015
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